Menetou-Salon is one of Centre-Loire’s best-kept secrets. Only about 15% of the wines are exported, meaning you’d have to go to France to easily experience these racy yet elegant wines for yourself. But for those lucky people who find them stateside, they know: Menetou-Salon is the source for outstanding Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Rosé.
Historic writings dating as far back as 1063 suggest vines have existed in Menetou-Salon for centuries. While the wines enjoyed some amount of fame, a production and quality revival in the 1970s brought new attention to the region. As of 2020, 1,510 acres of vineyards cover the appellation. Stylistically, wines closely relate to neighboring Sancerre, and are often called a great value in comparison; however, Menetou-Salon wines showcase their own special character.
White wines dominate in Menetou-Salon, but supple and elegant reds and rosés paint a bigger picture of Menetou-Salon’s beautiful terrain. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir thrive in the Kimmeridgian soils, and the cool climate allows grapes to ripen slowly while retaining beautiful acidity. Most white wines spend a little time aging on the lees, which gives a round, vibrant texture. Citrus, floral, and mineral notes meet an intriguing spice quality not often found in other Sauvignon Blancs in the Centre-Loire. Red wines also show the same freshness; producers in the region prefer a short aging time for the reds—either just a few months in stainless steel or a year in barrel—to allow the pure fruit aromas and flavors to shine. With Menetou-Salon’s Pinot Noirs, ripe cherry and plum qualities entice on the nose and on the palate. Rosés, made from Pinot Noir, are either produced by quickly pressing the grapes to ensure little skin contact, or through the saignée method, where a certain amount of free-run juice is “bled” off after a short maceration. The first method yields a pale rosé, while the latter gives a deeper color and slightly bolder style.
The secret’s out: for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Rosés with finesse, look to Menetou-Salon.